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Aluminum Can’t Get Enough Electricity

Energy Efficiency as a Competitive Advantage


Inventor Charles Martin Hall was just 51 years old when he died in 1914, but a century later his discovery is still touching everything from soda to space flight. Working in a woodshed behind his family home in 1886, Hall found an inexpensive way to produce pure aluminum by using electricity to break down aluminum oxide, a process called electrolysis. Hall went on to launch Alcoa and his method dominates the global aluminum industry to this day.

As the name implies, electrolysis consumes electrical power. A lot of it. In the aluminum business, electricity can add up to 40 percent of production costs. That’s why smart smelters like EGA/Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) in the United Arab Emirates need ways to make power generation cheaper. “With a global oversupply of aluminum leading to nearly 20 percent of the industry’s total production sold for little or no profit, our success going forward will depend on increasing our production levels while lowering our operational costs,” said Tayeb Al Awadhi, EGA/DUBAL’s vice president for power & desalination.

17.64 MW
Increase in Output Capacity
reduction in fuel consumption


EGA/DUBAL, the world’s second largest aluminum smelter site, runs its own 2,350-megawatt power plant and consumes most of the electricity it generates. Since the 1980s, the plant has relied on GE gas turbines to produce its power. EGA/DUBAL installed GE software, sensors, and an upgraded control system along with new combustion and hot gas path hardware in the turbines.

This upgrade is a great example of GE's Power LifeMax* solution. By partnering closely with EGA/DUBAL engineers and operators, GE developed a tailored upgrade package to help EGA/DUBALachieve its desired outcomes. The new system is constantly gathering and analyzing data critical to the turbine's performance.

EGA/DUBAL engineers can optimize the machines for fuel efficiency, maximum output and emissions, or balance all three. They can also remotely access GE expertise and benchmark their performance against global power production generated by GE's global turbine fleet. The system can help improve maintenance and cut back on unplanned downtime.

DUBAL’s first GE 9E turbine equipped with Power Life Max* and other new GE technology has increased power output by 3.4 percent, and reduced fuel consumption by 1.5 percent.

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